Dedicated to all Veterans including:
Virgil Poe, WWII U.S. Army Ted Poe, U.S. Air Force
Joe Pelton, U.S. Army Robert C. Pelton, U.S. Army
Jack Zimmermann, U.S. Marines Larry Moody, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army
Frankl Dunlevy, U.S. Army
And presently serving:
Sam Pelton, U.S. Army Terri Zimmermann, U.S. Marines
Ft. Campbell, Kentucky
In memory of:
Mike McSpadden, U.S. Marines Robert Paul Robbins, Jr., U.S. Army
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic: that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. That I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Voting is not a privilege, it is a right, and many paid dearly for it. Remember this when you say “my vote won’t count” or “I’m too busy” or “I don’t care”– American men and women in uniform have served, or are currently serving, in the military to protect and preserve our democracy and YOUR right to vote. Many have died[i] or suffered permanent disabilities fighting for our freedoms.
Voting is our most fundamental right as Americans–many sacrifices have made it possible for our citizenry to be able to vote– from military actions to civil rights movements.
African-Americans won the right to vote in 1870 when the 15th Amendment[ii] ended the practice of denying the right to vote based on race, skin color, or prior servitude. This was the third of the Reconstruction amendments[iii]. Fifty years later, after a long struggle known as the Women’s Suffrage Movement, women earned the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment[iv].
Many black citizens were threatened or killed trying to exercise their right to vote. There were other voting obstacles as well. A “poll” or “head” tax had to be paid in person at the time of voting. It was imposed on all adults equally, regardless of income or property ownership. The poll tax was used in the South during and after Reconstruction as a means of circumventing the 14th Amendment[v] and denying voting rights to African-Americans.
The tax also created a burden on poor white Americans. This form of taxation gradually fell out of favor in the South in the mid-20th century, but it was not until the adoption of the 24th Amendment[vi] in 1962 that poll taxes were finally abolished as a prerequisite for voting in federal elections. They were later eliminated in all elections. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed to enforce the already existing rights in a handful of Southern states.
Don’t take our freedoms for granted. Too many have sacrificed for our rights. Be smart in your voting decisions. Politics can be dirty business–false information is everywhere–so look at the source of these allegations. Remind others to vote. You can send out emails to people on your list and encourage them to vote. Since you as a lawyer may know more about many of the candidates, you can do a service for your contacts by giving them your choice of who is the best candidate.
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About the Author:
Robert Pelton is a Criminal Defense Lawyer with offices in Houston and Abilene, Texas. Mr. Pelton was awarded the State Bar of Texas Presidents Award 2020. Mr. Pelton has been named “Top Lawyer for the People” and one of Marvin Zindler’s “Marvin’s Angels” by H-Texas Magazine (2007). He was the personal lawyer for Marvin Zindler for 31 years. He was also rated by Super Lawyers (2014-18). Mr. Pelton is a Past President of HCCLA (1985-86), Founder and Chairman of HCCLA and TCDLA Ethics Committees (since 2011), a recipient of the Jim Bowmer Award for Professionalism from the Texas Bar College (2012); HCCLA Richard “Racehorse” Haynes Lifetime Achievement Award (2016); TCDLA President’s Awards (2011-18); and a United States Congress Proclamation from Congressman Ted Poe for his Zeal and Tenacious Defense of his Clients (2016). In the 1980s, Robert Pelton and Allen Isbell created Docket Call, now known as The Defender. Veteran of U S Army and Texas Army National Guard 36th Infantry Division.
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[i] Deaths in American Wars: Revolution (4,435); War of 1812 (2,260); Mexican War (13,283); Civil War (618,000); Spanish-American War (2,446), World War I (116,516), World War II (405,399), Korea (36,574), Vietnam (58,220), Gulf War (383), Iraq/Afghanistan (6,607). The American Prospect (May 26, 2014).
[ii] Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.
[iii] 13th Amendment abolished slavery. Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865. 14th Amendment provided citizenship rights, due process and equal protections. Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
[iv] Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.
[v] Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.
[vi] Passed by Congress August 22, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.